fMRI Evidence for the Role of Recollection in Suppressing Misattribution Errors: The Illusory Truth Effect

Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 4.69). 05/2005; 17(5):800-10. DOI: 10.1162/0898929053747595
Source: DBLP

ABSTRACT Misattribution refers to the act of attributing a memory or idea to an incorrect source, such as successfully remembering a bit of information but linking it to an inappropriate person or time [Jacoby, L. L., Kelley, C., Brown, J., & Jasechko, J. (1989). Becoming famous overnight: Limits on the ability to avoid unconscious influences of the past. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56, 326-338; Schacter, D. L. (1999). The seven sins of memory: Insights from psychology and cognitive neuroscience. American Psychologist, 54, 182-203; Schacter, D. L. (2001). The seven sins of memory: How the mind forgets and remembers. Boston: Houghton Mifflin]. Cognitive studies have suggested that misattribution errors may occur in the absence of recollection for the details of an initial encounter with a stimulus, but little is known about the neural basis of this memory phenomenon. Here we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the hypothesized role of recollection in counteracting the illusory truth effect, a misattribution error whereby perceivers systematically overrate the truth of previously presented information. Imaging was conducted during the encoding and subsequent judgment of unfamiliar statements that were presented as true or false. Event-related fMRI analyses were conditionalized as a function of subsequent performance. Results demonstrated that encoding activation in regions previously associated with successful recollection--including the hippocampus and the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (PFC)--correlated with the successful avoidance of misattribution errors, providing initial neuroimaging support for earlier cognitive accounts of misattribution.

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Available from: Chad S Dodson, Aug 29, 2015
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    • "The pure experience of processing fluency under exclusion of direct remembering or reasoning that we have depicted above therefore clearly underestimates the usefulness of the fluency cue. In the past, the usage of fluency as a cue has often been treated as a judgmental bias or an error, because in most experimental setups, previous encounters and factual truth are artificially orthogonalized (e.g., Mitchell et al. 2005). Our analysis suggests (as illustrated in Fig. 1) that as long as more than half of the statements one has been exposed to are true, it is epistemically justified to use processing fluency of a statement, derived from prior exposure (see Mandler 1980) and other possible sources, as a cue for the truth of the statement. "
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    • "Furthermore, manipulation of encoding variables which increased source memory in the older population also led to a reduced truth effect (Law et al., 1998). As well, it has been shown that the brain regions which show additional activation on fMRI during false judgements are the same areas that are activated during successful source memory recognition (Mitchell et al., 2005). It should be pointed out that the tagging process need not be explicit, as Lieberman, Ochsner, Gilbert, and Schacter (2001) have demonstrated: Participants with amnesia, like control participants, changed their subjective ratings of pictorial preferences based on a cognitive dissonance manipulation that they could not remember. "
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    • "In contrast, a second manifestation of the illusory truth effect occurs when participants are told during study about which information is to be believed and nevertheless tend to misjudge cuedfalse information to be true (often more frequently than novel information; Begg et al., 1992). Statistical techniques (Begg et al., 1992) and recent neuroimaging research (Mitchell et al., 2005) have demonstrated that this effect relies critically on the absence of recollection for the study episode; participants tend not to misjudge cued-false information to be true when they have access to contextual memory for the cue with which information was initially presented. In contrast to the first prediction, AD patients should produce more misattribution errors than healthy controls when information is cued as being true or false during the study phase, as the absence of recollection augments the number of illusory truth errors under these conditions. "
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